Pittsburgh, with everything in place, runs away with the AFC North. I had Cincinnati as a wild-card team and a dark horse Super Bowl entry. Then all that police-blotter stuff hit the fan. So, operating on a high moral plane, I recomputed and got them to 8-8. This might strike you as the worst kind of blue-nosed sanctimoniousness, but I don't care. I must face my neighbors, all of whom have many small children they're raising, and we mustn't lose sight of the real things in life. Steve McNair plays just enough games to get the Ravens into the postseason, but I have to admit that they stepped forward and filled Cincinnati's spot when I did the morality number on the Bengals.
OK, now for all you e-mailers who are rolling up your sleeves and getting ready to fire off cannons of rhetoric at your faithful narrator, the real adjustment I did on Cincy was very slight. Originally, I had them beating Cleveland twice. I changed it to a split. I wouldn't be surprised if they pull themselves together and make the playoffs and do well there. I just feel that the offseason turmoil could presage something inherently wrong with this team, and I don't want to get caught sleeping.
So, apparently the guy had Cleveland at 4-12, and decided that he wanted the Bengals' win total to be lower, so he gave the Browns a win over Cincinnati. This confirms my suspiscions on how these big national media guys think: They don't give a single thought to which team is better, or which team might win the match-ups. They decide where they want the teams to end up, and then come up with justifications after the fact. Furthermore, they aren't even looking at all the teams. Instead, they focus on their Golden boys (Seahawks, Steelers, Giants, Cowboys, Bengals, Dolphins. . .) and decide where they want THEM to end up, and then the rest of the teams are just a "fudge" factor to get the right number of league-wide wins and losses.
I know, I know, horse, dead, stop beating. Predictions are meaningless exercises, and the guys doing them also know they're crud, but they make a nice profit off publishing this stuff, so they have to go through it.